CAIRO: The inherent tribalism present in Northern Sinai saw one family win the majority of council seats in Sheikh Zowayed and Rafah ahead of elections which begin today.
The family of National Democratic Party MP Fayez Abu Harb won almost 80 percent of the seats in the two towns at the levels of council, city and governorate the day before elections were due to take place according to North Sinai Tagammu party member Hussein El Qayem.
The winners ran unopposed after independent candidates could not find their names on the final ballot lists.
“Independents had applied for candidacy papers but their names weren’t on the final ballot lists, Journalist and North Sinai Tagammu party member Mustapha Singer told Daily News Egypt. No explanation was given for the missing names but this allowed the NDP and members of Abu Harb’s family to win the elections uncontested.
For this end, some of the independent candidates have decided to file lawsuits to clarify why they were not placed on the ballot lists, Singer added.
Abu Harb belongs to a tribe in the area, and the election results are seen as a victory for the tribe in an area where extended family is as important as the unit.
Trouble often erupts between tribes in northern Sinai, most recently between Al-Tarabeen and a rival tribe from Al-Arish which saw an escalation of violence in the area.
Municipal elections in Northern Sinai are often split amongst tribes according to an agreed upon ratio, El Qayem told Daily News Egypt. And the remaining seats in Sheikh Zowayed and Rafah not won by Abu Harb’s family were also won uncontested by the ruling NDP.
None of the independents who found themselves out in the cold were affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood, who have no presence in the area said El Qayem.
The municipal elections are due to take place today in the rest of Sinai, and in neighboring Al-Arish opposition candidates are present on the ballot.
The Tagammu party has fielded four candidates in Al-Arish and while others are running as independents. A female member of the Tagammu party has already won her seat in Central Sinai after running unopposed.
Independent candidates were called to the offices of State Security in Al-Arish last week after slogans for NDP candidates were set on fire, according to Singer.
Relations between residents of the area and local authorities – often the NDP – are often tense, mainly due to perceived official non-interference in tribal clashes.